Too much Twenty20 cricket has substantially reduced Sakib al Hasan’s ability to spin the ball, observed his former coach and mentor Mohammad Salauddin.
Apart from the final one-dayer, Sakib was a shadow of his usual self with the ball in the recently-concluded Test and one-day series against Zimbabwe – something which many believe affected the team’s performances on the tour.
Sakib’s proven bowling prowess has contributed heavily to the team’s recent successes but the left-arm spinner’s tally of six wickets in five matches fell well below his own high standards.
‘He tended to bowl with a flat trajectory which reduced the spin in his deliveries. This is perhaps because he played too many Twenty20 matches in recent months and so he was always wary of conceding runs rather than attacking the batsmen,’ said Salauddin.
The man who coached Sakib since his early days at the BKSP observed: ‘Sakib usually gets the ball to drift in the air before it turns away after pitching while the other deliveries hold their line but this feature in his bowling was seldom apparent on this tour.’
After the World Cup, Sakib has solely played in the shortest format of the game, firstly with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and then with his county side Worcestershire in the Friends Life Twenty20 competition.
Salauddin, a former fielding coach of the national team who also assisted the spinners at different times during Jamie Siddons’ tenure, said the spinners failed to enjoy much success in Zimbabwe because they could not sketch out a proper gameplan to utilise the surfaces.
‘The wicket would have helped the Bangladeshi spinners if it was prepared to give flight to a delivery and allow it to turn. I think they [spinners] could not adjust to the wicket,’ said Salahuddin.
This is one of the reasons, Salahuddin identified, why the other left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak was not successful in the series.
In Bangladesh’s previous series against Zimbabwe, Razzak equalled the world record with his feat of three successive four-wicket hauls that included a hat-trick, in as many games. But surprisingly against the same side he picked up just one wicket in four matches and that too of a tail-ender in the final ball of the 50th over.
Bangladesh were even forced to drop Razzak for a game, a move which was previously unthinkable.
‘The spinners needed to deceive the batsman in the air and that can only be possible if you know how to spin the ball,’ Salahuddin said.
‘Turn depends on the wicket but if there is no turn you still have to continue bowling. That is when one has to drift the ball or drop the ball which the Bangladeshi spinners failed to do,’ he added.
Salahuddin was surprised to see Sakib lacking the aggression that he thought was one of his best qualities which helped him become the bowler he is today.
‘I think Sakib lacked the aggression that he possessed as a wicket-taking bowler. He looked like a defensive bowler perhaps because the wicket did not have much to offer but that was a mistake,’ said Salahuddin.
‘He is the kind of bowler who can be aggressive in any wicket because he has the ability to spin the ball,’ said Salahuddin